Financial Stability Network

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Clinic - Tax Return Preparation Volunteer

Tax Return Preparation Volunteer


Catholic Charities runs an IRS-sponsored Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site at the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University. The site provides tax assistance for low and moderate income families on Saturdays from February 1 through April 15. Volunteers typically perform one of three functions: intake interviews; tax return preparation; or senior review of tax returns.  Volunteers in each of these three roles interface with the taxpayer (and occasionally their families.) 


The goals of the Catholic Charities involvement in this VITA project include (i) providing high quality tax assistance to individuals and families in need at no cost; (ii) maximizing the tax benefits (filing status, child credits, child care credits, earned income credits, etc.) to which the taxpayer is entitled under the law; and (iii) and helping these taxpayers avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous “storefront” preparers who charge high fees and structure refund anticipation loans that further siphon off the benefit of the refunds due  to the taxpayer. 


Tax Return Preparation Volunteers will be responsible for:

  • Helping taxpayers organize their tax-related materials (intake interviews)
  • Ensuring taxpayers have all necessary forms (intake interviews)
  • Assisting taxpayers to fill out detailed information sheets needed to prepare their return (intake interviews)
  • Preparing federal and state tax returns using IRS-based software (tax return preparation)
  • Reviewing tax returns and documents for accuracy before it is electronically submitted to the IRS (senior review)


Desired Skills, Experience, and Characteristics:

  • Typically, return preparers include law students with an interest in tax or clinical work, CPAs, attorneys and other financial professionals with some experience in tax principles
  • Intake volunteers will receive necessary training to do their roles, but substantive tax expertise is not needed



  • Tax return preparers and senior reviewers need to pass an online IRS competency exam. The Catholic Charities VITA site provides mandatory training sessions on the key areas of tax law needed to take the IRS exam and provides computer lab training on the use of the IRS-based tax software used in the return process.


Volunteer Benefits:

  • Make a positive difference in the economic lives of the taxpayers you work with
  • The taxpayers who take advantage of the Catholic Charities VITA site are always appreciative of the time and energy of volunteers



  • Volunteers are supported by prior Catholic Charities staff, volunteers in the program, and professionals from the Columbus School of Law who provide training, administrative resources and facilities


Time Commitment:

  • Tax preparation volunteers will need at least two days of training at the Columbus School of Law as well as 2-4 days to review materials and take the IRS exam
  • The VITA site is open for approximately 10 Saturdays from February 1 through April 15. Volunteers are asked to sign up for four to six four hour shifts during this time frame.


Location: Trainings are at the Catholic Charities Hickey Center at 924 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001; the VITA Clinic is at Catholic University of America Law School at 3600 John McCormack Dr NE, Washington, DC 20017

  • The Catholic Charities Hickey Center is accessible by both metrorail (both the Metro Center and Gallery Place-Chinatown stations) and metrobus
  • The Catholic University of America Law School is accessible by metrorail (Brookland Red Line station) and metrobus
  • Metered street parking is available at both sites

Next Steps:

  • Apply to serve in this role. Click the Fill in an application button to the right to submit an application
  • After submitting your application, scroll down to the Schedule heading and click the + Sign Up button to register
  • Then, join us for Volunteer Orientation to learn more about this role and begin the volunteer on-boarding process